By Gregory Alcala
The last time out at Belson Stadium, Archbishop Molloy experienced the highest of highs when Jessie Rodrigues’ double-overtime goal crowned the team as city champions.
Less than a week later, back at Belson, that joy became a distant memory.
Penalties and limited shots on goal doomed Molloy, while Chaminade took advantage of every offensive opportunity that presented itself to secure a 3-0 victory in the CHSAA Class AA boys’ soccer semifinals last Saturday night. It was the first loss of the season for Molloy (12-1-5).
The Flyers (17-2-2) wasted no time grabbing control of the game. In the fourth minute, Chaminade’s Alec Brutschin shot a sharp liner into the goal after receiving a perfect inside pass from Nicholas Lavinio, near the middle of the box. It’s this goal that Molloy Coach Andy Kostel believes changed the game. Just before the score, Molloy committed a costly foul, setting the stage for Chaminade to score the game’s first goal early in the first half.
“If that first goal doesn’t happen, the game is 0-0 going into the second half,” Kostel said postgame.
Early after the break, Kostel’s club would commit another foul when Chaminade’s Matthew Vowinkel was taken down on the right side of the box. It set up a penalty kick. Vowinkel drilled a shot to the top right corner of the net, giving Chaminade a comfortable 2-0 lead.
According to Kostel, Molloy’s strategy was to counterattack, and their offensive opportunities were nonexistent throughout this game. Chaminade dominated the ball, for the duration of the game and at certain points of the match, looked as if they had an extra man.
Rodrigues, one of Molloy’s best playmakers and goal scorers, was the target of double teams from the Chaminde defense, whether he had possession or not. It showed how much Molloy missed Kyle Hoffman’s presence in this game.
Hoffman, who scored the winner in the diocesan semifinals, has a knack for creating opportunities offensively. He was out with an injury and his absence forced some of his teammates to play out of position. The loss ends a stellar year for the Stanners, who won their first city title since 2012.
“It’s tough when you lose one of your top players who you expected to have,” senior centerback Jack Mangin said. “We would’ve loved to have him out there, but either way, our heads are still high. We had a great season.”